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THE 



ART OF SKATING; 



WITH 



PLAIN DIRECTIONS 



FOR THE 



ACQUIREMENT OF THE MOST DIFFICULT AND 
ELEGANT MOVEMENTS. 



BY 



CYCLOS, 



A MEMBER OF THE GLASGOW SKATING CLUB. 



GLASGOW; 

THOMAS MURRAY & SON, ARGYLE STREET. 

LONDON: DAVID BOGUE. — EDINBURGH: JOHN MENZIES. 

MDCCCLII. 






JOHN NE1LSON, PRINTER, TRONGATE. 



Co tfje 

Eigijt lax ilje ferl nf fgltittmt antr Itotmnt, 

atitr tfje 

Ihmhts nf tjrB fflaspm Skating fink, 

Cj)ts fiumtle attzm$t 

Co extenlr tije Itnotoleirge, ana improoe tfje f tacttce, of tl)tix mouxiti ®xt, 

Is most respectfully Befticatcfc. 



PREFACE. 



Previous to commencing this Treatise, the Author was not 
aware of the existence of any other on the same subject, ex- 
cept a very small one published in Belfast, and which he saw 
many years ago. Wishing to see it again lately, he caused it 
to be enquired for, but failed to obtain a copy, which circum- 
stance decided him on endeavouring to fill the vacancy. 

Since commencing, however, he has fallen in with articles 
upon skating, in " Blaine's Encyclopaedia of Rural Sports," 
" Walker's Manly Exercises/' and "Captain Clias's Gymnas- 
tics." 

These are good enough as far as they go, but not sufficiently 
complete to supersede the want of a more comprehensive work. 
The same may be said of Captain Jones' Treatise, published 
in the last century, and which, though devoted solely to this 
elegant accomplishment, is erroneous in many respects, and 
deficient in others. The backward circles seem not to have 
been known then, for only in his last paragraph does he hint 



V1 PREFACE. 

at such a possibility, where he mentions, as "newly discovered," 
the "heart-shaped" figure, corresponding to our figure 3. 
Moreover, the book was written in the days of cocked hats 
and minuets, when every act of life was a sample of cold, 
studied, and acted formality, and it is therefore too puncti- 
lious about attitudes to suit the ideas of the present day. For 
the illustrations, the Author is indebted to this old work, and 
he adopted them because the ancient costume seemed better 
suited for the representation. 

It is not without considerable diffidence that the Author has 
ventured upon his task, and with something of the feeling 
of insecurity with which a young skater might attempt a 
" Double 3." It may be said to him, " Surely you, who pre- 
' ' sume to criticise and instruct, must be a first-rate performer 
" yourself, or at all events have a high estimate of your own 
" doings," but the sequitur is not conclusive. " Non omnibus 
"adire Corinthum," everyone can't win the Corinthian games ; 
yet no doubt, many a good Greek who failed, could criticise 
and admire, possibly even instruct. In the same way, many 
a one knows good music who cannot play, and the best 
teachers are often indifferent vocalists. So, Eeader, it is with 
the Author in skating, and so it may be with you, in spite of 
your best efforts ; but practice will do much, especially when 
right directed, as he hopes to direct you. And for the rest, 
you have probably observed in your course through life, 
that skating is not the only line in which high precept does 
not ensure lofty practice. 



PREFACE. Til 

»• 

To see really good skating, is the best teaching ; but, as a 
general rule, that is only to be seen in the large cities, where 
the greater field of emulation has produced it. Country 
skaters, from never seeing it, are not even aware of what can 
be done on skates. 

To spread the better knowledge of this graceful, healthful, 
and exhilerating accomplishment, is the aim of the present 
treatise ; and the Author hopes, that if he has succeeded in 
giving lucid descriptions of the various movements, and 
practical directions for the easiest mode of attaining them, 
his work will be acceptable to his Eeaders, as well as satis- 
factory to their respectful well-wisher, 

CYCLOS. 



CHAPTER I. — INTRODUCTORY. 



SPORTS AND PASTIMES IN GENERAL. 

Angling, Cricket, Archery, Horse Racing, Swimming, Yacht- 
ing, Golf, Bowling, Quoits, Shooting, Salmon- fishing, Deer- 
stalking, Ealconry, Hunting, Coursing, Curling. 

As every time lias its peculiar occupations and 
duties, so, likewise, has every season its appropri- 
ate sports and pastimes. 

In the first flush of Spring, when Nature seems 
to breathe a new life over the lethargic Earth, 
and each manifold phase of being responds to the 
new-born influences pulsating within ,it, man 
shares in the general joy. 

As soon as the season turns, and 

" Winter, slumbering in the open air, 

" Wears on his smiling face a dream of Spring," 

from the din and turmoil of pent-up cities, he longs 
once more for the pure breath of heaven — for the 
hills, and the woods, and the streams. 

" Whanne that Aprile, with his shoures sote, 

" The droughte of March hath perced to the rote, 

" Whan Zephirus eke, with his sote brethe, 

A 



^ SPORTS AND PASTIMES 

" Enspired hath in everie holte and hethe 
" The tender croppes. 

" And small foules, maken melodie, 

" That sleepen alle night with open eye — 

" Than longen folk to gon on pilgrimages." 

Pilgrimages,— not indeorl, in then modem times, 
to the shrine of ThomaWhBi Off :my of the 

other "grisly saints .an. I hairy" wlium 

our innocent forefat 1 1. :• .! lighted to lioimtir \ but, 
perchance, to some sjx>t equally hallowed by old 
associations, and more likelj to oommv • a 

new elasticity to the mind hftift&od with I 
or jaded with pleasm 

Already at this early s of the year, 

" By Isis, Cam, or yellow Avon, 

" The angler, joyous, pursues his sport." 

Or still more happy his lot, who, 

" When soft winds wake the grey-eyed morn," 

far from the busy hum of the world, wanders, with 
rod and basket, away in the upland solitudes, by 
some rushing Highland stream, or lonely moun- 
tain tarn ; — his bosom swelling with the glorious 
inspiration of the mountain air — awakening all 
the higher feelings of his nature, and bringing to 
his heart and lips "thoughts that breathe, and 
words that burn." Nor less his delight, when, in 
the calm and placid evening, with well-filled creel 



IN GENERAL. 6 

of golden crimson-spotted trout, he wanders home- 
ward 

" By paved fountain, or by rushing brook, 
" Or by the beached margent of the sea." 

April passes, and we welcome in the May — the 

u merrie month " — the beloved of the poets : — 

" The flowery May, who from her green lap throws 
" The yellow cowslip and the pale primrose," 

when the may -thorn sheds its perfume from 
the hedge-rows ; and, on the common, the broom 
and the furze commence their rivalry in wealth of 
golden blossoms ; — not unheeded by the pale arti- 
zans, who have gathered from the neighbouring 
town to gladden their weary souls with bat, and 
ball, and wicket ; — England's own game. May 
the breath of the May soon restore the hue of 
health to their cheeks, pallid with a Winter's toil. 
Nor have the more aristocratic sons and daugh- 
ters of England no part in the festival. In royal 
park or ducal lawn, we have seen them, with tents 
and targets pitched, enjoying the revival of one of 
England's ancient games. The excitement has 
been keen, for they have been shooting for the 
silver arrow, and yonder tall graceful girl, with 
the bow still in her hand, like a new Diana — has 
just won it. How beautiful she looks, with the 
rose of health and the flush of excitement on her 
fair Saxon face. 



4 SPOKTS AND PASTIMES 

Another sketch ere we bid farewell to the 
" merrie month." 

It is towards the end of the month, and the sun 
is shining gloriously. All London is abroad holi- 
day-making, for it is " Darby day." What crowds 
of happy faces — what strange varieties of vehicle ! 
— one wonders where they come from, and where 
they can hide themselves all the other days of the 
year. 

The crowd seem mad with jollity and fun. 
And what a crowd ! No exclusiveness here, for 
all classes mingle, and there are nearly a hundred 
thousand on Epsom downs, all animated by one 
common feeling — love for the most thoroughly 
national of England's sports. 

The numbers are up, and the saddling bell has 
rung. See, now they come forward for their pre- 
liminary canter. What a splendid sight ! Thirty 
thorough-breds, of matchless form, clean of limb, 
and with the fire of courage in their eye — the pick 
of England — and that means the world — and 
backed by peerless riders, each admirably skilled, 

" To turn and wind a fiery Pegasus, 

" And witch the world with noble horsemanship." 

Now they are marshalled at the post, — and now 
they are off. What an eager reaching on tiptoes, 
and straining of eyes, over all that vast crowd ! 



IN GENEKAL. 5 

and what a breathless suspense watching the re- 
sult ! — the whole sporting hopes and anxieties of 
a year condensed into two minutes. But they 
approach the finish ; and many a gallant steed 
that has shone in the foremost ranks so far, now 
flags with bated speed. The contest is left to a 
few, and how bravely they struggle ; horse and 
rider alike nerving heart and limb, as they strain 
neck and neck for foremost place; and the shouts 
of their partizans, as they cheer them on, are fin- 
ished in one tumultuous, wild, deafening cheer, as, 
in the last stride, the favourite's colours flash past 
the chair, and the people hail the world-renowned 
winner of a " Derby." 

In June we have no particular addition to the 
list of Summer sports ; but the genial air is still 
more wooing, the earth wears a richer garb, and 
the growing heat induces still more the indulgence 
of all sports in which the "world of waters" has 
its part. 

Dear to the lover of nature, who listens enrap- 
tured to her every voice, as he wanders by foun- 
tain, wood, and stream, where the sound of rust- 
ling leaves and falling waters sinks upon his ear 
with a gentle cadence — 

" A noise as of a hidden brook 
" In the leafy month of June, 



6 SPOETS AND PASTIMES 

" That to the sleeping woods, all night, 
" Singeth a quiet tune ; " 

or by the clear and pebbly river, where the spot- 
ted trout leaps at the mayfly, and where the broken 
current, glittering in the sunshine, 

" Makes sweet music to the enamelled stones, 
" Giving a gentle kiss to every sedge 
" It overtaketh in its pilgrimage." 

Pleasant are the July heats to him who, with 
strong and nervous limb, loves to disport in the 
waters themselves, enjoying the gentle heaving of 
a Summer sea, or the still more placid bosom of 
lake or river. 

Sailing, too, enjoys its share of favour, and in 
that, need we say, that England has attained a 
proud pre-eminence. Though of late days, Amer- 
ica, the strong and vigorous child of her age, has 
wrested some of the laurels from her brow, — we 
grudge them not ; still we can point to the hon- 
ourable rivalry and enterprize which carries our 
yachtsmen into every sea. 

We can point to one who, having, like Vasco di 
Gama, braved the storm-spirit of the Cape, and 
sailed into the most distant oceans, carries his 
country's flag to found a new dominion. 

To another who, after circumnavigating the 
globe in his small bark, goes on an errand of noble 



IN GENEKAL. 7 

philanthropy to dare the terrors of the frozen 

north, and lays down life itself in his glorious 

quest. 

" High reward to deeds of generous daring, 
" Heaven, the bold achiever high upbearing, 
" To the seats for godlike men decreed." 

For the elderlies, who love the quiet comforts 
of home, there is, in Scotland, the ancient and il- 
lustrious game of Golf; and pleasant pastime it is 
to follow the feather-flighted* ball, over bush, and 
brae, and "bunker;" and many a time, and oft, 
have we joyously done it. 

Both north and south of Tweed, the Bowling 
green spreads out its velvet turf, for those whose 
inclinations "biass" that way; and we have Quoits 
for the athletic artizan, in the long summer even- 
ings, when the daylight does not close upon his 
toil. 

In August, the crow of the gor-cock summons 
us to the moors and mountains ; and happy they 
to whom the summons comes not vainly. 

Now, too, is the salmon stemming the rapids, 
making its upward way, ever upward, impelled by 



* Though as hard as wood, it is actually stuffed with down, 
but the packing is pretty close, for it takes several hatfulls 
of feathers to fill one bail about an inch and a half in diameter. 



8 SPORTS AND PASTIMES 

the strong necessity of its nature, back to its early 
haunts. 

With what exultation does the angler view, 
though but for an instant, its broad flank gleam- 
ing with blue and silver, as it dashes at his tinselled 
lure, followed by the ringing music of the reel, as 
with wayward fin the strong fish darts deep into 
the recesses of some boiling pool, anon flinging 
himself high in air, struggling to escape the barbed 
fate that remorselessly pursues him. 

In the later months of the year, the Highland 
sportsman lays aside fowling piece and salmon rod, 
and then the sharp crack of the rifle may be heard 
echoing from rock to rock, and crag to crag, as 
the noble red deer, "a stag of ten," falters along, 
with the gouts of blood trickling over his shaggy 
coat. The dogs are slipped, (deerhounds of the 
true Highland breed, with the shape and speed of 
the greyhound, the size and strength of the blood- 
hound, and the nose and coat of the terrier,) and 
ere he has reached the bottom of the corrie they 
are at his throat, and the big round tears have 
barely gathered in his melancholy eye, till, with a 
cry of agony, he throws up his head, falls back on 
his haunches, then on his side, and dies. 

The Lowland sportsman, too, has not been idle. 
His high-trained pointers have been traversing the 



IN GENERAL. 9 

turnip lands and stubbles, and many a well-filled 
bag of gold-plumed pheasants, and spotted par- 
tridges, with now and then a snipe or a woodcock, 
or a stray mallard, has he shot over them. 

We hope he does not indulge in the butchery 
of the " battue," for that is not true sport. But we 
would love to see him, like the knights of old, with 
belled and hooded hawk on his manly wrist, and 
attended by a " goodlie companie," following the 
windings of some sedgy stream, while his spaniels 
are beating through the reeds to raise the watchful, 
keen-eyed heron from her fishing quest, yonder 
where she sits so motionless by the pool. 

And there is noble sport for him in the clear 
autumnal days, when the fields are bare, and the 
woods shorn of their Summer splendour, save 

" The one red leaf, the last of its clan, 

" That dances as often as dance it can ; 

" Hanging so light, and hanging so high, 

" On the topmost twig that looks up at the sky ." 

The dead leaves lie brown and faded, and 
gathered into heaps and drifts by the hedgesides, 
and the berries hang ripe and red on the Brier, and 
on the Rowan tree, and on the Thorn by the 
covert side, where you may see a field of well- 
mounted sportsmen gathered in knots expectingly; 
their steeds are pawing and impatient, while the 

B 



10 SPORTS AND PASTIMES 

hounds range through the gorse. But hark, there 
is a whimper and an eager cry from the leading 
hound, as he dashes on the hot scent, and the 
whole pack, following suit, give their music to 
the breeze, as, with heads high, they burst from the 
covert, and in close cluster stretch away over the 
fallows. 

" Listen how the hounds and horn 
" Cheerly rouse the slumbering morn, 
" From the side of some hoar hill, 
" Through the high wood echoing shrill." 

Or, if he prefers less exciting sport, you may see 
him on foot with his keepers, and a couple or two 
of greyhounds, noble dogs, lithe of limb, majestic 
of form, and with the unmistakeable impress of 
high breeding in every vein and feature, 

" Unmatched for courage, wind, and speed." 

We are now approaching the dead depth of 
winter ; the Highland sportsman, like a migratory 
bird, wends his way southwards, for the mountains 
are covered with unmelting snows, and he must 
seek his amusements in a less rigorous climate. 

When the dull thick fogs of November, and its 
ungenial alternations of sleet and rain, have given 
place to the clear and bracing frosts of Christmas- 
tide ; when the yule log burns on the hearth, and 
the holly hangs in the hall — when, outside, the 



IN GENEKAL. 11 

brief bright sun shines with slanting ineffectual 
ray, over the snow-covered ground, whose crisp 
and frozen surface creaks under foot ; 

" Ah ! bitter chill it was. 
" The owl, for all his feathers, was a cold ; 
" The hare limped trembling through the frozen grass, 
" And silent was the flock in woolly fold ;" 

and when pond, and lake, and river are coated 
with a strong and slippery surface — then there are 
pleasant occupations indoors for the long evenings, 
and pleasant pastimes abroad for the short days. 

In Scotland, we have Curling; called, from its 
exuberant hilarity, " the roaring game." 

It is eminently a game that creates pleasant 
sympathies between all ranks and classes ; on the 
curling rink, if nowhere else, social distinctions are 
forgotten, and "the Lord and the Laird," and the 
minister of the Parish, troop to the ice, with their 

" Channelstanes, crampets, and besoms so green," 

and play in the same rink with the peasant and the 
artizan. 

It would be strange, indeed, if a game so 
thoroughly wedded to the feelings of the Lowland 
Scotch, had been forgotten in their national poetry. 
But it is not so. In Burns and Hogg, and down 
through all grades of the "Dii minorum gentium," 



12 SPOKTS AND PASTIMES 

we find it honourably mentioned; and there is 
hardly a local club that has not half a dozen oris;- 
inal songs of its own, all in high eulogy of this 
manly game. ex. gr. 

" It clears the brain, stirs up the native heat, 
" And gives, a gallant appetite for meat" 

The grand Caledonian Curling Club, which is 
a union of all the local clubs in Scotland, have an 
annual " bonspeil ;" and, when weather and ice are 
favourable, the gathering is very large, and the 
scene animated in the extreme. 

Fancy a spacious Loch, with a strong and 
smooth sheet of ice, — the frost keen, and the air 
clear and bracing. 

The whole surface is crowded like a fair, — be- 
tween spectators and curlers, there may be fifteen 
or twenty thousand people on the Loch. It is 
county against county, and parish against parish, 
so that the interest circulates through all. The 
music of the stones ringing along the ice, resounds 
from a hundred rinks, and merrily over the wide 
expanse, echo the cheers of the players, and the 
shouts of the Skippers, as they convey their instruc- 
tions in such native "Doric" as the following, which 
your wondering ear occasionally catches from amid 
the "Babel" of voices: "Grie'sapatlid;" "Pitsmed- 
dum in't;" "Come under your grannie's wing;" 



IN GENERAL. 13 

"Soop it up;" "Haud the win' aff that ane, he's 
gleg;" and many other quaint, but well understood 
directions, uttered in all the joyous hilarity of the 
moment. 

As a mere spectator, you feel yourself insensibly 
stirred by the " gaudia certaminis," the spirit of 
" the roaring game," and, ardently longing to join 
in it, you give vent to your admiration in the 
well known motto of the Duddingston Club— 

" Sic Scoti, alii non aeque felices." 



14 



SKATING. 



CHAPTER II. 



SKATING. 

Winter sport; defence; antiquity; Skating in Northern coun- 
tries ; Women skating ; Distance and speed ; Russia ; Norway ; 
America; Anecdote of Indians; Anecdote of Wolves; 
Canadian Winter ; English skating ; London ; Edinburgh. 

Having, in the preceding chapter, briefly glanced 
at most of the other outdoor sports and pastimes 
in which our countrymen indulge in their respec- 
tive seasons, I now come to another of those, 
which can only be followed in the Brumal depths 
of Winter, when the waters have been bridged 
over with a crystalline floor — that one of which 
it is my chief purpose to treat — the difficult, ele- 
gant, and manly accomplishment of Skating ; — a 
pursuit which we follow with enthusiasm, amid 

" The icy fang, 
" And churlish chiding of the Winter's wind," 

or in the dead stillness of a set frost, when the 
winds seem to have been frozen in the air, for the 
purpose of covering the bare twigs and branches 



SKATING. 15 

of the Summer - forsaken trees with a hoary fea- 
thering of silver ; — powdering, with sparkling dia- 
mond dust, the limp and scanty grass; — and deck- 
ing, with fairy crystals, each mean and withered 
atom of the Summer's wreck. 

I certainly have occasionally heard an invidious 
detractor say, that the attribute of " manly/' did 
not apply to skating ; suggesting that it might be 
a good enough exercise for a schoolboy, or a "moon- 
ish youth," but that all those of a larger growth 
who indulged in it, must be of somewhat deficient 
mental calibre. 

Those who say so, are the " rough diamonds" 
of the world, — those extremely useful members of 
society, who bring their a cui bono ?" into every 
question, and are apt to look upon all refinement 
and elegance, as pertaining to the effeminate. I 
never heard any one who could skate well, make 
such a remark ; for in this, as in most things, it 
will be observed, that those only who are deficient 
in any knowledge or accomplishment, affect to de- 
spise it. To praise, would be to acknowledge the 
deficiency in themselves ; and, to narrow-minded 
people, that would engender a feeling of inferiority, 
the admission of which w r ould be too great a trial 
for their pride, and they find it much easier to 
slight what they have not, than to acquire it. 



16 SKATING. 

That skating is something more than mere ex- 
ercise for schoolboys, is best proved by the fact, 
that, to become a really good skater, requires so 
much careful practice, that schoolboys do not at- 
tain proficiency. I do not see any reason why 
they might not, and I hope to aid in making it an 
earlier pursuit than it now is; nevertheless, the fact 
remains, that as yet I have never seen a mere boy 
a good skater. 

Whatever innocent pursuit calls forth the 
energy and assiduity of a man to accomplish,— 
particularly when not entirely exempt from per- 
sonal risk, can never be fairly called " unmanly." 
As to the early history or remote antiquity of 
the art, I can give the reader very little informa- 
tion. "Blaine" says, 

"Skating, although unquestionably a much 
ci more early practice among us, is first noticed in 
" the description of London, by Fitz Stephen, who 
" relates that 

6 When the great fenne or moore (which water- 
' eth the walks of the citie on the north side) is 
' frozen, many young men play upon the yce.' 
Again : 

6 Some, stryding as wide as they may, doe slide 
^swiftlie; asome tye bones to their feete, and 
4 under their heeles, and, shoving themselves by a 



SKATING. 17 

* little picked staffe, doe slide as swiftlie as a birde 
'flyeth in the aire, or an arrow out of a crossbow." 

Certainly this was skating of a very primitive 
description ; and that would not, I think, indicate 
a much anterior invention. 

Blaine also informs us, probably from the same 
old authority, that 

" One of their sports was, for two to start a great 
" way off, opposite to each other, and when they met, 
" to lift their poles and strike at each other, when 
u one or both fell, and were carried to a distance 
" from each other by the celerity of their motion " 
And he further says : 

a Of the present wooden skates, shod with iron, 
" there is no doubt we obtained a knowledge from 
"Holland." 

In our own country, where the opportunities of 
skating are rare, and of short continuance, and 
where the distances that can be traversed on fresh 
water are so small, skating is purely a pastime, and 
is therefore cultivated more in the direction of ele- 
gance, than practical utility. 

But in more Northern countries, where the 
roads are blocked up for months with deep snows, 
the frozen surface of the lakes and rivers forms 
their only roadway; skating and sleighing their 
only means of travelling and communication be 

c 



18 SKATING. 

tween pretty distant places. In this way, the in- 
habitants, men and women alike, are skaters, and 
can travel their fifteen miles an hour with ease, 
keeping up the pace for several hours. 

One of these skaters, however perfect in his own 
line, would make no appearance whatever in any 
of our English clubs ; and, in the same way, I fear, 
our finest performers would be utterly distanced 
in the skating races of the North, where they con- 
test for victory on a thirty mile course. 

A Dutch woman skating to market, will carry 
her baby, and a basket of eggs, forty miles of a 
morning ; and in Winter, the Amsterdam market 
for country produce, is mostly supplied by skaters. 

Sleighs pushed by skaters, or drawn by horses, 
or even impelled by sails, are used for the same 
purpose in those countries ; and Blaine says, that 
in Lincolnshire, something of this sort is done — 
that skating is put to a practical use ; and that a 
Lincolnshire man, for a wager of a hundred 
guineas, skated a mile in three minutes. 

In speaking of speed, he mentions another re- 
markable instance, that of an officer having skated 
from Montreal to Quebec in one day ! which, he 
says, "considering the state of the ice on these 
a large rivers, was a wonderful performance." 
Wonderful enough, certainly, to make me some- 



SKATING. 19 

what sceptical, for, whatever might be the state of 
the ice, the actual distance is 180 miles. 

In this country, we mostly make Summer our 
holiday-time, for in Winter we have so much wet 
weather, that a clear frosty day can never be 
reckoned on till it comes. But in other countries, 
particularly where the employment of the people 
is wholly agricultural, the Winter, which brings its 
repose to the soil, brings its rest and rejoicing to 
the people also. Labour has laid aside her sickle, 
and garnered its fruits, and the time for the plough 
is still distant ; — why should she not feast and be 
merry. 

In Russia, the Winter is especially a festive 
time. The brilliantly illuminated and furnished 
Ice Palaces of the Neva, with their feasting, and 
music, and dancing, — the artificial twin ice hills, 
down one of which the sledge rushes thundering 
with such velocity, as carries it entirely up the 
other, — with skating, and sleighing, and all sorts 
of ice amusements, mark the progress of the Rus- 
sian winter. 

In Norway and Sweden, and round the shores 
of the Baltic, the hardy hunter follows the chase 
on skates ; and his speed and facility in turning, 
enable him to attack, and avoid retaliation from, 
the ferocious wolf, till he is brought down with 
repeated wounds. 



20 SKATING. 

The American skater sometimes owes his pre- 
servation to his speed and endurance on the irons. 
There is a well-known story of a settler in the far 
west, w T ho was taken captive by the Indians, and, 
after some days of bondage and torture, was shown 
a pair of skates that had been included in the 
plunder of his village. His captors, ignorant of 
their use, asked him to show them ; — a beam of 
hope cheered his despairing heart as, with trem- 
bling hands, he proceeded to fasten them on. He 
soon got on the ice, and commenced shuffling and 
tumbling about fantastically, but taking care gra- 
dually to move farther from the shore, the unsus- 
pecting Indians laughing at his awkwardness. 

They were then upon the far shore of one of 
the immense lakes of that vast continent ; and the 
sheet of ice that stretched before the skater's gaze, 
ended only in the horizon. 

When he thought himself far enough away, 
he fell for the last time, and bound the skates more 
firmly to his feet, then, rising, he stretched out at 
full speed, while the Indians scarcely recovered 
from their astonishment in time to send after him 
a few random bullets, which bounded and tinkled 
along the ice harmlessly. 

Still, though free, he was not out of danger ; he 
had a vast desert to traverse without food or shel- 



SKATING, 21 

ter, exposed to the chance attack of wolves, or still 
more remorseless Indians ; and frequently turned 
from his course for miles, by some wide crevass, 
till he could find a spot narrow enough to leap 
over. But after journeying in this manner for two 
days and nights, when exhausted and despairing, 
he fortunately fell in with a trapper, who guided 
him to a settlement. 

More recently, an incident happened to a Canad- 
ian settler, in which his skates, though they cer- 
tainly led him into the danger, also bore him safely 
out of it. 

His habitation lay on the banks of a river, and, 
being fond of skating, he had gone out alone one 
fine moonlight night to enjoy it. 

The moon shone with unusual splendour, ren- 
dering more faint the brilliancy of the myriads of 
stars, which, in so clear an atmosphere, shone like 
diamond points, deep set in the interminable blue. 
The ever-varying aurora borealis, so magnificent 
in that climate, would ever and anon come shooting 
up from the horizon in crescents, and columns, and 
domes of many-coloured light, till the whole zenith 
would become splendidly irradiated, and the ear 
could connect with the flashes, a sound as of silken 
banners shaken in the wind ; these shapes chang- 
ing as suddenly to narrow streamers, and thin 



22 SKATING. 

flakes of shooting and floating light, ever brigh- 
tening, — ever darkening. 

The ice was smooth and clear, and reflected in 
its motionless mirror the radiance of the heavens, 
and the deep shadow of the primeval forest, which 
stretched gloomily on either side. 

Tempted by the beauty of the night, he had 
wandered rather far from home, and had entered 
one of the many smaller creeks that joined the 
river : here his path gradually darkened, for, as the 
stream grew narrow, the tall old trees met and 
interlaced over-head. 

Suddenly, from the brush at his side, came a low 
growl, and, looking round, he saw two fierce eyes 
glaring bluely at him through the darkness; — anon 
others and others, on all sides, and closer, till he 
thought he could feel the hot breath of the hungry 
wolves which were closing round him. Instant 
flight was his only chance for life, and, turning, he 
rushed for home. The wolves followed, and the 
chase was a quick and a hot one ; for a time, the 
skater kept well ahead, and many of his pursuers 
gave up the chase. He was approaching his home, 
and could at last even see the light from his win- 
dow glancing occasionally through the forest ; — 
but he felt that his powers were nearly exhausted, 
and some of the wolves were still closing on his 



SKATING. 23 

track, with their long lumbering gallop that never 
tired. He saw his home before him, and heard 
the welcome sound of his watchdogs barking. 
Oh, for one minute of Lion or Ranger — but alas, 
they were chained, and could render no help. The 
wolves were at his heels, and, without any other 
thought than that of meeting his fate, he turned 
sharp to one side. The foremost wolf made a dash 
at him, but, unable to check its velocity on the 
slippery ice, it slid past him, as did the rest ; and 
the skater found himself with a fresh start, and 
nerving himself anew, he dashed on. A second 
time overtaken, he had recourse to the same ma- 
noeuvre, when, probably frightened by the loud bark- 
ing of the dogs, the wolves gave up the chase ; 
and, in joy and thankfulnes for his preservation, 
the settler reached his home, resolved not again to 
indulge in the romantic at such hazard. 

In Canada, the Winters are particularly severe. 
The snows that fall in December, seldom vanish 
till May ; the intermediate time being mostly oc- 
cupied with intense frosts, varied, of course, with 
snow storms and thaws. 

The thermometer ranges from 25° to 30° below 
zero, giving about sixty degrees of frost ! (in Scot- 
land, 20° above zero, which is twelve degrees of 
frost is considered very keen, and we rarely have 
it so low.) 



24 SKATING. 

This severity of climate, however, seems almost 
to add a zest to out-door amusements. Business 
and pleasure being alike suspended, all ranks and 
classes indulge in a general jubilee ; skates are 
sharpened, and sleighs new furbished; and the 
city inhabitants, late so active in business, now 
follow pleasure with equal enthusiasm, in which 
their country friends are in no way behind. Visit- 
ing commences in furore, distance being no con- 
sideration ; city balls and country junkettings, 
where each guest brings his own dish, are all the 
go, and the jingle of the sleigh bells is heard in 
all directions ; the chance of being snowed up, and 
the many hazards of the road, only adding zest to 
the fun. 

i Now and then, at rare intervals, the St. Law- 
rence is completely frozen over at Quebec, and 
then a grand carnival takes place. Tents and 
booths are erected, and skating and sleigh racing, 
and other glacial sports, are the order of the day. 

Something of this kind has taken place in Lon- 
don also, when the Thames has been frozen over. 
A fair was always held on its surface, which lasted 
with the ice. But this is like a jubilee year, once 
in half a century, and likely to be still less frequent 
as the channel is deepened for the navigation. 

The London skaters resort mostlv to the Ser- 



SKATING. 25 

pentine water in Hyde Park, for their amusement, 
and when that is well frozen, the scene is a very 
animated one, the crowd being sometimes so dense, 
as to preclude much fancy skating. There, how- 
ever, are to be seen the finest skaters that our 
country can boast of, and even foreigners, accus- 
tomed to the finest execution in their own more 
practical line, admire the elegance of the English 
evolutions. 

In Scotland, notwithstanding our national van- 
ity, we must, I fear, acknowledge our inferiority 
in skating, for though there are a few good skaters 
about the large towns, the number is very small, 
and, in country districts, the performances are 
usually very indifferent. 

The Edinburgh skaters go to Duddingstone 
Loch, a very pretty sheet of water, to the south of 
the city, behind Arthur's Seat ; and if you take 
the road over the hill on a fine frosty day, when the 
ice is bearing, you see as pleasant and lively a 
scene as can be witnessed anywhere. 

The lake is spread out before you, so far below, 
that you take in the whole surface at a glance, — 
the ice is brilliantly white, for though there is no 
snow on the ground, the busy skaters have scraped 
a surface of snow over the ice. You don't exactly 
see what they are doing, but only, that they are 

D 



26 SKATING. 

rushing frantically about, and tumbling over each 
other; ever in restless motion, just like the denizens 
of an anthill, and almost as numerous. There is a 
large sprinkling of ladies, also, and one or two of 
them you see with skates on, and performing very 
w 7 ell, too, generally much better than the cavalier 
on whose arm they affect to lean. 

I like to see ladies skate ; though, no doubt, the 
early steps must be rather trying to female nerves 
and female drapery ; and we must not expect our 
fair friends to learn in public, or even to make an 
appearance, till they have got over the first diffi- 
culties, and feel themselves pretty secure against 
casualties. But where they can have the oppor- 
tunity of a private pond for first practice, these 
difficulties may be easily surmounted. 

In Glasgow, there is probably less skating than 
in any town in the kingdom of near its size; the 
inhabitants are so much engaged with business all 
day, and there is so total an absence of idle people, 
that the ice has only a few devotees. 

These few, however, form the centre of a very 
flourishing skating club, who have a pond of their 
own; and, besides this, there are a number of ponds 
and small lakes within convenient distance of the 
town, and being situated so far from the sea, they 
have at least three times as many days of ice in 
each season, as the Edinburgh men. 



SKATING. 27 

The Clyde is rarely frozen, and when it is, the 
ice is usually bad, from the rise and fall caused by 
the tidal influence breaking it. 

Attempts have been made frequently, to invent 
skating that could dispense with frost, and be 
practised at any season. 

I remember a Professor who undertook, for a 
consideration, to teach a mode of going on wheeled 
skates ; and he certainly did wonders himself but 
somehow his pupils made no progress, and then it 
ceased to pay. Probably the acquirement was 
found to resemble too much that of the clown at 
Astleys, who runs about the stage, up hill and 
down dale, perched on the top of a big round ball. 

A few years ago, an artificial ice was invented, 
which was to put Jack Frost's nose out of joint 
completely, and be better than the original ; but it 
turned out to be only "property" ice after all, 
produced in the climate of the footlights, and unfit 
for any other. 



28 THE SKATE, 



CHAPTER III. 



THE SKATE. 

The Common Skate ; its defects ; its proper fastenings ; the 
Spring Skate ; the Glasgow Club Skate ; general consider- 
ations ; the Stock ; the Iron ; the Fastenings ; the Boot. 

The ordinary skate is no doubt perfectly familiar 
to my Readers, and requires no description. 

It is by no means a perfect implement, but in 
some respects very deficient. The principal of 
these defects is, that the wood does not sufficiently 
adapt itself to the shape of the foot, and is not 
broad enough to give a steady support, or to pre- 
vent its shifting. 

The iron also projects beyond the foot in front, 
and falls short of it at the heel, and is therefore 
not so well under control as when it exactly fol- 
lows the length of the foot both ways. 

The price varies with the size and quality, run- 
ning from 3s. 6d. to 15s. a pair. 

I recommend the learner to begin with a very 



THE SKATE. 29 

cheap pair, and after he has made some progress 
in the art, to abandon this sort of skate entirely 
for one of the superior kind, which I shall here- 
after describe. 

In the sale shops, the quality of the fastenings 
is usually proportioned to that of the skate ; but 
Jet the iron and wood be as common as the learner 
pleases, he should have the fastenings good ; and 
they should consist of a good screw to go up into 
the heel, and a small bar of iron across the tread of 
the foot, an inch forward from the broadest place, 
and turned up at the ends to catch the sole of the 
boot. If the learner has these, the straps will 
never require to be painfully tightened. One long 
strap to go round the foot, through all the holes 
in the stock, will do very well, or a back heel strap 
may be used in addition. 

In buying, let him look to the heel screw, and 
he must himself get the bar put on to fit his own 
foot ; it must project more to one side of the wood 
than the other, for the outside of the foot, — and 
the skates are then right and left. It gives a 
broader foundation for the foot, and prevents the 
skate shifting from side to side ; and a single day's 
skating with the three little pikes which are com- 
monly found in its place, will do more damage to 
your boots, by cutting the soles across, than would 



30 THE SKATE. 

pay for the alteration four times over, besides the 
discomfort of constantly drawing the straps till the 
feet are cramped with them, and the skate shifting 
in spite of all. 

The Patent Spring Skate of Messrs. Eodgers & 
Son, from its light and elegant appearance, was 
very much used for some years. The fastenings 
are simple, and quickly adjusted. Instead of a heel 
screw, there is a pike ; and the spring is solely 
used for keeping this pike in its place, not, as 
might be imagined, for causing any buoyancy of 
motion. I used this skate for some years, but 
considered it insecure. The iron has too little 
support, and vibrates while skating, to such a de- 
gree that I have known it break ; and being, for 
the sake of strength, of a uniform thickness, the 
edge does not catch the ice so well as those irons 
which are thinner at the foot than at the ice. It 
is also, like the common skate, too long at the toe 
and too short at the heel. 

I do think, however, that many of the objections 
I have named, might be obviated by some altera- 
tions in construction, so that this beautiful skate 
might become thoroughly practical, which it is not 
at present, The price, I think, runs from 20s. to 
25s. 

The Glasgow Club Skate is unquestionably 



THE SKATE. 31 

superior to any other in principle. Its peculiarities 
are, a better form for tlie wooden stock or sole, 
which is made right and left, the exact size and 
shape of the boot sole, hollowed at the tread, and 
at the heel, so as to fit close to the foot. 

Likewise, a better form for the iron, which does 
not extend in the least beyond the toe, where it is 
simply rounded up to the edge of the sole ; and has 
therefore none of those fine points and twisted up 
ends, which our grandfathers esteemed necessary 
elegancies, but which are, in reality, just as useful 
as the long shoe toes, which, in days of yore, were 
looped up to the gallant's knee, and from which, I 
daresay, the long skate points were borrowed. 
The iron extends backwards to the extreme edge 
of the heel, instead of being cut off an inch within 
it ; and the corner is rounded off, instead of end- 
ing in a sharp point, as in the old skate. 

The advantages of the above form will be readily 
understood by any skater. The fitting of the wood 
enables the skate to attach more firmly, and the 
foot to be nearer the ice, which is an advantage 
The iron being completely under the foot, is more 
within its control ; and especially is the full length 
to the heel, and its rounded extremity, an advan- 
tage as the skater progresses towards proficiency, 
when he comes to practise the various evolutions 



32 THE SKATE. 

which require to be, in whole or in part, performed 
backwards. 

Neither does the want of the sharp heel, throw 
any difficulty in the way of stopping when you 
please, as has been sometimes suggested ; nor is 
the new form less elegant on the foot than the old, 
on the contrary, it looks less cumbrous and more 
practical. 

These skates can be had from the Club's makers, 
Hilliard & Chapman, Buchanan Street, but they are 
not patented in any way. The price ranges from 
18s. to about 25s., depending partly on the size, 
but more on the description of fastening, which 
may be still more expensive. 

Hitherto they have been only made with first- 
rate material and workmanship, but there is no 
reason why the shape might not be adopted in nearly 
the cheapest quality made ; at all events, a very 
good skate might be made at a much lower figure 
than I have named, and yet possessing all the ad- 
vantages of the improved form. 

The stock or sole of the skate is made of beech 
or of boxwood; the former is lighter, and not so 
liable to split — the latter has no advantage but the 
questionable one of being prettier. Gutta percha 
has been tried, but, as yet, not very successfully ; 
perhaps if it were mixed with sawdust from hard 



THE SKATE. 33 

wood, it might do very well, as mixing has been 
found advantageous for other purposes. As already 
stated, the sole should be made to fit closely to that 
of the boot, the under side should not be left full, 
but pared away as much as is consistent with the 
requisite strength, so that it may not readily touch 
the ice in leaning over. 

The iron ought not to be very much curved from 
toe to heel. Makers are too apt to fancy, that a 
great curve is necessary to enable the skater to 
circle easily, forgetting that the turns will be made 
with shorter bearing on the ice, and therefore with 
less precision. Neither, however, ought the iron 
to be too straight, or it becomes difficult to make 
small circles ; yet I would rather have them too 
straight than too much curved. 

Walker says, u the curve should be the arc of a 
u circle whose radius is two feet." This is quite 
too much, — for, placing the centre of the iron on 
the ice, each end would be about an inch above 
it, — therefore the bearing would be very short in- 
deed. In my opinion, the curve should not be the 
arc of a circle at all, that is to say, it should not 
be a uniform curve, but very slight indeed along 
about six inches of the middle of the iron, and in- 
creasing towards each end, so that when the mid- 
dle touches the ice, the ends will be not less than 

E 



34 THE SKATE. 

an eighth, nor more than a quarter, of an inch 
above it. The lower surface of the iron should be 
a quarter of an inch broad or thereby ; it ought not 
to be grooved, as is sometimes done, — much to the 
detriment of the beginner, who, after learning on 
grooved skates, will feel himself like a cat on 
walnut shells when he puts on plain ones. The 
edges should, however, be kept sharp by occasional 
grinding, perhaps once in a season, or even less ; 
and in doing it, the iron should be held across the 
face of the grindstone, which, by giving an almost 
imperceptible concavity, ensures a sharp edge. 

It is desirable to have the foot as near the ice 
as possible, yet necessary to have it so high, that, 
in leaning over, the edge of the sole should not 
touch the ice. If the iron is, at the middle of the 
foot, an inch clear of the stock, it should do, — but 
a broad foot may require an eighth more. 

The mode of fastening may be varied to suit the 
fancy of the wearer, as there are many modes suf- 
ficiently good ; — if the skate is secure to the foot, 
so that it cannot shift in the least, the end is ac- 
complished; and if, in addition to that, the fasten- 
ing aids in supporting the ancle, so much the bet- 
ter. Captain Jones thinks that a very firm fasten- 
ing leaves the skate " no proper play," and consid- 
ers that a fault; but I do not know what he 



THE SKATE. 35 

seeks play in the skate for. I think the more it can 
be united with the foot the better. 

For the heel fastening, a peg is the most simple. 
It should be as long as the boot heel will admit, and 
square ; but, even then, unless the straps are kept 
very tight, it is constantly coming out, and is there- 
fore very objectionable. 

A good screw, up into the heel is very secure, 
but rather troublesome in putting on. 

A narrow bar of iron across the heel, turned 
up at the ends, and with screws going into each 
side of the boot heel, is a very secure plan, and 
not troublesome, as the holes being in the sides of 
the heel, do not fill up. The screws should have 
broad flat heads, that they may not project incon- 
veniently. 

A bit of iron turned up at the back of the heel, 
with a single screw to go in, is frequently adopted ; 
but, though more quickly adjusted, it is not quite 
so secure as the side screws. 

A small bolt in the centre of the skate heel, 
made to fit into a slit in an iron plate fixed on the 
boot heel, is an excellent plan. It must be so ar- 
ranged, that, to insert the bolt, the skate is held at 
a right angle from the side of the foot, and then 
merely turning it to the line of the foot fixes it. 

Another plan is, to carry the heel of the skate 



36 THE SKATE. 

iron up an inch on the back of the boot heel ; — a 
few deep notches are cut in it on the inner side, 
and a little bit of iron, with notches to correspond, 
is attached to the boot, sunk in at the back of the 
heel, so that, when together, the notches fit into 
one another. This I consider the best heel fast- 
ening I have seen. 

The forward fastening may consist simply of a 
long strap to go round the foot, through all the 
holes in the stock, and once round the ancle for 
extra support ; but this is not quite so perfect a 
mode as having in front a piece of leather, about 
four inches broad, to meet over the foot, from the 
point of the toe to near the instep. It may be 
joined either by a lace, or by three buckles, — the 
latter for choice. This, with two small pikes un- 
der the tread, and a good heel fastening, would be 
sufficient ; but I prefer adding a strap through 
the middle hole of the stock, over the instep to the 
hole at the heel, thence up round the ancle, and 
forward to buckle on the instep. 

The pikes under the tread, with the improved 
stock and improved fastenings, have not the objec- 
tion of cutting the boot soles, as they do in the ill- 
contrived common skate. 

Another mode of fastening has been recently 
tried, and I believe those who have adopted it 
highly approve of it. 



THE SKATE. 37 

An iron rim is attached to the wood, from the 
ball of the foot forward round the toe ; it is turned 
up and then inwards, so as to catch on to the boot 
sole. There is a rim round the heel also, turned 
up, but not inwards, and with a hole behind, for a 
spring or a small screw to go through into the 
boot heel. This is the whole fastening ; there are 
no straps of any description ; the wearer trusts the 
rest to a well-laced boot. 

I hesitate to recommend this plan till it has 
had a longer trial. The objection I see is, that 
it requires too accurate fitting of the parts ; and I 
fear, as the boot wears, and becomes thinner and 
„ broader in the sole, it may not answer so well. 
Moreover, no boot but the one for which it was 
made would answer : with any other, the skates 
would be utterly useless. 

Boot skates I have never used, but have heard 
them well spoken of. For ladies, I should con- 
sider them by far the best description. The skate 
iron is just inserted in the thick sole of a lacing 
ancle boot, and there is no fastening, beyond put- 
ting on the boot, and lacing it firmly. It is no 
new invention, and I therefore think if there was 
not some strong objection, it would have found 
more general favour with skaters. I find it ad- 
vertised upwards of sixty years ago, as 



38 THE SKATE. 

" The new invented half-boot shait, sold by the in- 
"ventor, Mr. James, No. 14, Newgate Street, and 
" by Thomas Olio Hickman, No. 7, Upper Mary-le- 
66 bone Street. Price one guinea and a-halfP 
So, it has had at least plenty of time to introduce 
itself. One objection is, that instead of only a pair 
of skates, you have to carry a pair of boots to the 
ice, and may have some difficulty in the disposal, 
while there, of the walking boots you take off. 

Whatever differences there may be in taste or 
opinion, as to the shape of the iron, or the mode 
of fastening, I apprehend there is none as to the 
best description of boot for skating in. Unques- 
tionably the best is an ancle boot, lacing from low 
on the foot, up the front. The sole should be ra- 
ther thin than thick, or it raises the foot too far 
from the ice. The upper leather — or cloth if pre- 
ferred — should be stiff and well-fitted, so as to be 
capable of being firmly laced, that it may give 
full support to the ancle, where, in skating, all 
the strain rests. 

There is still a desideratum in skate fastenings. 
Some mode is wanted that will be alike simple and 
secure, quickly put on, and more universal in its 
application than any I have named. The defi- 
ciency in all the new plans is, that their use is 
nearly limited to one particular pair of boots. You 



THE SKATE. 39 

cannot borrow your friend's skates on an emer- 
gency, nor lend your own. Nevertheless, I would 
not sacrifice security of fastening to any other 
consideration ; and the general application is of 
less consequence, as every one who is particular 
about his skating, will set apart a pair of boots 
for the purpose. 

In conclusion, I need hardly suggest, that to 
keep the irons highly polished, and the straps and 
buckles clean and in good order, is not too trivial 
to be worth a little attention. 



40 INSTRUCTIONS IN SKATING. 



CHAPTER IV. 



INSTRUCTIONS IN SKATING. 

Forward Striking ; Serpentine ; Shinty ; Backward Motion ; 
Treading the Circle ; Spread Eagle ; Fencing Position. 

We will now suppose the aspirant fairly equipped, 
his skates firmly fixed, and himself placed — by the 
aid, perhaps, of some friendly hand, on the ice — on 
his feet, and left to his own resources. 

Forward Striking or Eunning 

Is the first movement to be learned. I will 
first describe what it is, and then the steps towards 
attaining it. 

In executing it, the skater keeps his toes turned 
out just so far that his feet line at right angles to 
each other. Each foot is lifted alternately and 
set down, slightly on the inside edge, when it im- 
mediately slides forward, additional impetus being 
communicated by the other foot, which, from its 
position at right angles, can push against the ice 
without sliding. 



INSTRUCTIONS IN SKATING. 41 

The first step has enabled him to progress, say 
on the right foot, for a yard or two ; he then sets 
down the left forward, while the right has taken 
its position at right angles to give the impetus. 
This movement, repeated on each foot alternately, 
enables the skater to attain great velocity. 

We have supposed the beginner on the ice, and 
prepared to tumble through his first lesson. Let 
him, as gently as ever he pleases, attempt to walk 
or progress forwards. The toes should be turned 
outwards, and the ancles kept stiff. Even if he 
can, he need not lift his feet very high, and he 
must not try to push them out in the meantime, 
for he will probably find that the mere setting 
down will give him more impetus than he is well 
prepared for. 

The great error beginners make is, forgetting to 
keep the ancle stiff; the object of doing so is, that 
the whole length of the iron may be lifted from the 
ice simultaneously, and in setting down, the whole 
edge reach the ice at once. If he bends the ancle 
and rises on the toe as in walking, the result will 
probably be a fall. It will assist a learner's progress 
a good deal, to practice walking on dry ground, or 
in a room, with skates on ; it will teach him to 
keep his ancles stiff, the necessity for which I have 
so much dwelt on. 



42 INSTRUCTIONS IN SKATING. 

A jolly good tumble now and then, may be con- 
sidered an inevitable necessity, and the learner 
must be prepared to bear it with what philosophy 
he may ; nevertheless, it is desirable to have it as 
gentle as possible, and for this purpose the body 
should be inclined well forwards, and the arms left 
free. Eschew a stick ; it is no assistance, but 
rather the reverse, and it impedes improvement. 

I have heard of some faint-hearted beginners 
adopting a certain article of female attire (modi- 
fied to the circumstances of the case), to mitigate 
concussions. But if they would always incline 
forwards, their falls would usually follow the same 
direction, and they would not feel the necessity for 
such an expedient. 

What with bruises and tired ancles, possibly a 
little ridicule at his manv falls, or an occasional 
practical joke from some more expert companion, 
the first day or two goes off rather unpleasantly ; 
but that the exultation at gaining a new power 
more than counterbalances all misfortunes, is best 
proved by the fact, that no one is deterred by 
them, at least, I never heard of any ; on the con- 
trary, the moment the day's miseries are over, they 
leave behind them an increased appetite for more, 
and this appetite continues to grow with the learn- 
er's progress. 



INSTRUCTIONS IN SKATING. 43 

In a very few days, the learner, if he has care- 
fully attended to the above directions, will find 
himself able to move about with a little more se- 
curity, and he will be striking out a little. In doing 
so, let him be particularly careful to use both feet 
equally, and not acquire the bad habit of doing 
everything with the right foot, to the neglect of 
the left. Continued practice will soon make him 
perfect in forward striking, and bring him on step 
by step, not merely to freedom and grace in his 
movements, but to the attainment of those more 
difficult evolutions which we will afterwards de- 
scribe. 

The Serpentine. Forwards without 
Striking. 

The feet, instead of at right angles, are placed 
parallel. Without lifting either, turn both at once 
in the same direction, say to the right, swinging 
the body with them. Then both to the left, with 
a swing to that side, and so on. The skater pro- 
gresses in a wavy line, apparently without effort, 
and the velocity acquired is considerable. 

The easiest way to learn is, after taking a few 
strokes forward to gain force, bring the feet toge- 
ther, and while going along in that way, attempt 
to make the line wavy by swinging the body, and 



44 INSTRUCTIONS IN SKATING. 

turning the feet first to the right, and then to the 
left ; aiding the motion, by pushing against the 
ice with the left when going to the right, and vice- 
versa. The knees must be kept slightly bent. At 
first it is difficult to keep up the speed you com- 
mence with, but after a little practice the impetus 
can not only be kept up, but originated, without 
requiring any striking for the commencement. 

This movement is not perhaps elegant, but it is 
a great relaxation from the fatigue of striking, 
without much diminution of speed. Moreover, if 
you come to a weak bit of ice, it is much the safest 
way of crossing it, as the motion is more gentle, 
and the weight divided equally between the two 
feet. 

Shinty. Anglice, Hockey. 

Although this variation in skating is considered 
altogether "infra dig" by our most accomplished 
performers, and is entirely ignored by the Glasgow 
Skating Club, (and very properly so where the 
space is somewhat limited, as it is rather annoying 
to be knocked off one's equilibrium in the middle 
of some difficult figure, or finely balanced poise, 
and dashed to the ice by the stampedo rush of a 
party of frantic players), yet I cannot forbear 
from a few words in its favour. 



INSTRUCTIONS IN SKATING. 45 

Where there is room, I consider following the 
shinty ball on skates an exhileratitfg and^ invigor- 
ating pastime ; and, what is still more to the pur- 
pose, I know no other sort of practice that will 
give a learner so much confidence and security on 
his skates. 

Of course he must be able to run about pretty 
freely before he can attempt shinty, but when he 
can, the keen spirit of the game, urging him after 
the ball, with rapid runs, sudden stops, and quick 
turns, quite heedless of falls and impediments, will 
give him a control over his skates that twice as 
much less exciting practice would not. Sharp 
heeled skates are a great advantage in this sort of 
skating. 

Backward Motion. 

The common backward motion on both feet is 
exactly the same as the "Serpentine," except being 
backwards instead of forwards. When trying it, 
lie well forward, — turn the right toe inward, and 
push yourself back from that foot, then turn the 
left one inward, pushing from it, and so on alter- 
nately. 

Great speed can be acquired, but there is no- 
thing either useful or graceful in this movement, 
beyond lessening the awkwardness of feeling your- 



46 INSTRUCTIONS IN SKATING. 

self moving backwards, and it may thus a little 
facilitate some of the more difficult evolutions ; 
though, further than the freedom and confidence 
which varied practice gives, neither this nor the 
u Serpentine" are necessary steps towards figure 
skating. 

Treading the Circle. 

This is a backward movement in a circle, with 
both feet employed. Astonishing velocity may be 
acquired by a little practice. 

Set the feet straight forward, the one behind 
the other; that is, the toe of the one to the heel of 
the other. Lean well forward, and slightly lift 
one foot, setting it down again in its place, then 
lift the other also slightly, and set it down in 
its place ; — repeat this slight motion alternately, 
never changing the relative position of the feet. 
You will very soon find that this lifting and set- 
ting down, slight as it seems, is enough to propel 
you backwards, circling to whichever side you lean. 
The bearing should be most on the front foot, 
which should rest on the outside edge, the other 
being inside. When the circle is small and slow, 
the lifting of the feet should be imperceptible ; but 
to increase the size, and attain speed, it must be 
more marked. 



destructions i\ skating. 47 

The Spread Eagle. 

I describe this figure without recommending it. 
It is ungraceful in the extreme, and leads to no- 
thing else. It is executed by placing the feet in 
the dancing master's " first position," heel to heel, 
in as near a straight line as possible, but about a 
foot apart, the knees being bent. The impetus 
1 laving first been obtained by a few forward strokes, 
the feet are brought quickly into the position ; 
when the natural consequence is a circle sideways, 
made on the inside edge, and larger or smaller ac- 
cording as the feet are more or less in line, and the 
body more or less upright. 

If the feet can be turned still more, so that the 
toes are behind the heels, — the knees still bent, but 
the body very upright or inclining backwards, the 
circle becomes one on the outside edge, which has 
an extraordinary appearance from its extreme dif- 
ficulty ; but not, even then, does it approach ele- 
gance. 

The Fencing Position. 

Tin's is one of Captain Jones' figures, and though 
only a modification of the last mentioned, is in 
every way superior to it. The feet are in the same 
position, but you rest most on the one in front ; 
instead of going on either edge of the iron, you 



48 INSTRUCTIONS IN SKATING. 

must keep on the flat, so that you move in a per- 
fectly straight line, without curving either way, 
and in this lies the difficulty. The attitude, from 
wmich the name is taken, is thus described : — 

u The right arm (when going to the right) must 
u be held out nearly in a line with the shoulder, 
u and the eyes fixed on the fingers of that hand. 
" The body must be held as upright as possible, 
" the breast held out, and the head back ; all these 
" positions must be well observed, otherwise it will 
u be impossible to move in a right line, or to keep 
u your balance." 

I give the reader the illustration of this po- 
sition. 

Another variation of the " Spread Eagle " is 
given by Captain Jones. It is to combine the 
inside circle and the outside, by executing, in the 
position of the spread eagle, a curve on each edge 
alternately, which must be extremely difficult. 



FIGURE SKATING. 49 



CHAPTER V. 



FIGURE SKATING. 

Inside Edge Forward ; Outside Edge Forward ; Rolling ; 
Travelling ; Crossing ; Figure 8 ; Spiral Line ; Sea Serpent. 

I now come to those figures which require such 
proficiency on the part of the skater, as will en- 
able him to dwell for some space on one foot. 

As already stated, the bottom of the iron is about 
a quarter of an inch broad, but in skating, this is 
only in a few rare positions perfectly flat on the 
ice ; it is the sharp edge of the bottom that the 
skater uses — sometimes the one edge, sometimes 
the other. The one is called the inside, the other 
the outside ; and the evolutions which are desig- 
nated "Inside" or "Outside," refer to which edo*e 
of the iron is used in executing them. 

The turns on the inside edge are comparatively 
easy, because the skater requires to lean very little 
off the centre of gravity, and it is towards that 

G- 



50 FIGURE SKATING. 

side where he has the other foot ready to support 
him in case of need. 

Those on the outside edge are, on the other hand, 
very difficult to attain, because the learner must 
lean very considerably off the centre of gravity 
before he properly reaches the outside edge ; and 
he leans to that side where he is deprived of the 
aid of the other foot. It would be quite impossi- 
ble to stand in this position, but he can circle or 
curve, because the centrifugal force keeps him 
from falling. 

Inside Edge Fokward. 

When the young skater can run freely, and 
feels himself pretty well at home on his skates, he 
will naturally dwell longer on each stroke than at 
first; and as, in describing "Forward Striking," I 
mentioned that it is done on the inside edge, and 
as the iron always circles towards the side on 
which it rests, it follows, that dwelling on the 
stroke gives the arc of an inside circle, which a 
little longer dwelling on that foot would complete. 

This is very easily learned, but, unfortunately, 
when learned, it is worth nothing ; and I mention 
it, only because it comes naturally to the beginner; 
and he is apt to think he is doing a very fine thing 
when he can go on one foot in any way ; whereas, 



FIGURE SKATING. 51 

I think lie should rather avoid practising the in- 
side edge forwards, as it is never used by good 
skaters, and, I fear, rather impedes the acquire- 
ment of the outside edge. Backwards, it is a dif- 
ferent thing, but of that anon. 

Outside Forwards. 

This is unquestionably the most graceful and 
elegant performance on skates, and no one can 
have any pretensions to be considered a moderately 
good skater, who is deficient in it. 

All the most difficult figures are variations of 
the outside roll ; and it is therefore of the utmost 
importance to the learner's subsequent proficiency, 
to be well grounded in it. 

There is, I fully believe, only one way of learn- 
ing it well, and if the learner is uninstructed in 
that, he may labour for years, and, after all, not 
acquire the correct balance. 

Let the skater, by means of common skating, 
attempt to move round in a circle ; at first it may 
be of any size he pleases, and gradually reduced 
as he improves, till he gets to eight or ten feet 
diameter, which is the best size for practising. 
He is not to strike out — and the moment he feels 
himself doing so, he had better stop and begin 
again ; the mere lifting and setting down of the 



52 FIGURE SKATING. 

feet gives sufficient impetus. He lifts one foot, 
crosses it slowly in front of the other, and sets it 
down, then the other in front of that, and so on 
alternately ; always dwelling as long as he can on 
whichever foot is nearest the inside of the circle, 
because that foot is working on the outside edge 
of the skate — and as briefly as possible on the other, 
which works on the inside edge. The foot that is 
behind, must be kept behind till it is to be set 
down, then brought forward, and the instant it is 
in front, down with it ; it must not be carried in 
the air in front for an instant. 

When tired skating with the right foot to the 
inside of the circle, go off in the other direction, 
that is, making a circle with the left foot to the 
inside of it, when you will dwell most on the left, — 
and be particular to give both ways equal practice. 

When first the learner tries skating round in a 
circle, he will find it rather difficult, but in an 
hour or two he will get round with comparative 
ease; and after a few days at this, varied, of course, 
with other practice, he will be surprised at his 
own progress ; he will find himself able to dwell 
for a few yards on the outside edge, with the rais- 
ed foot behind him — perhaps nearly to complete 
the circle. 

There is no other mode of learning that will 



FIGURE SKATING. 53 

give equal confidence in leaning over to the out- 
side, or enable the learner to acquire the correct 
balance, and yet keep the raised foot well back; 
And even after the skater can complete the circle 
on the outside edge with tolerable ease, he will 
find benefit from occasionally reverting to this 
practice ; particularly at the beginning of a sea- 
son, when he may feel a little insecure. 

EOLLING. 

This is the first mode of turning to account the 
last lesson. It consists of an outside semicircle on 
each foot alternately ; and has been termed Roll- 
ing, on account of the marked inclination of the 
body, first to one side, then to the other, as the 
skater circles to the right or to the left. To the 
mere spectator, it appears more wonderful than 
anything else, as the body is manifestly in a pos- 
ition which it would appear impossible to maintain 
for a moment without falling. 

It is maintained, as I have already mentioned, 
by centrifugal force; and the inclination can there- 
fore be much increased by increased speed : ex- 
actly as Franconi's horses walk round the circus 
upright — canter at a slight inclination inwards — 
but when put to the gallop, lie over in a position 
in which they could not stand for an instant. 



54 FIGURE SKATING. 

Except in executing any of the figures, it is not 
necessary to complete the circle in Rolling. The 
skater changes the foot when he has a mind ; nev- 
ertheless, I would recommend the learner not to 
attempt to alternate the feet, until he can do a 
complete circle on either separately. If he begins 
trying to alternate as soon as he can go a yard or 
two on the outside edge, he will inevitably check 
his acquirement of the proper inclination. 

When he has attained the single circle on either 
foot properly, changing from one to the other at 
pleasure is easily acquired. To make the change, 
he must bring forward the raised foot, and set it 
down in front on the outside edge, at the same 
time changing the inclination of the body to that 
side. In making this change, the foot that has 
just finished its curve comes over momentarily on 
to the inside edge, from which he takes the im- 
petus for his new circle. As in common " For- 
ward Striking," at the moment of making each 
stroke, the feet are at right angles to each other. 

The raised foot must not be brought forward 
till it has to be set down ; for nothing is more 
awkward and ungainly looking, than to see a skater 
rolling with the raised foot, perhaps, up high in 
front of him, or sticking up stiffly to one side, like 
a pump handle. But, as doing so acts as a coun- 



FIGURE SKATING. 55 

terbalance to the lean over, it is easier than the 
right way, and the learner is very apt to fall into 
a bad habit, which a careful beginning would 
avoid. 

Captain Jones' plan of teaching is rather dif- 
ferent from what I have described, and I shall 
therefore extract it for the reader's consideration. 
He says : 

a To preserve the balance on the outside edge, 
u is so difficult to be acquired, that I have known 
" many to spend three or four winters in learning 
" it. To prevent such disappointment, I will lay 
u down one general rule, which I have never known 
" to fail, even with those who at first seem the 
" most aukward. 

" Suppose a stroke to be made on the left foot, 
u it must be put down on the flat, with the knee 
" bent, the head inclined to the left, the right arm 
u held out, nearly upon a line with the shoulder, 
66 and the left arm held close to the side ; then, 
" with the right foot, impel yourself to the left, by 
u often pressing the inside edge of the skait on the 
" ice ; the left foot is not to be taken off. By this 
" method, you will make a sweep, which you must 
" endeavour to increase, by inclining the body to 
u the left, and bearing on the outside edge of the 
" skait, and by gradually increasing your inclina- 



56 FIGURE SKATING. 

" ation, and turning the head more and more to 
"the left shoulder, you will form a spiral line. 
" This method must be reversed for the right foot ; 
" and if practised for two or three days, the out- 
u side edge may be acquired." 

The reader will observe this is exactly the mode 
of propulsion adopted by little boys whose slender 
resources have not attained the possession of a 
second skate. I do not believe that those who 
learn skating in that way, have any particular 
facility for the outside edge, and I confidently as- 
sert, that if the young skater tries the Captain's 
lesson, he will fail, or learn very slowly ; ¥or, de- 
pend upon it, nothing but going round in a circle 
will teach him to lean over, for nothing else will 
give the centrifugal force which alone enables it 
to be done. The Captain was evidently not aware 
of this, for he devotes a very pedantic chapter to 
the enquiry, why it is possible to maintain the 
body in a falling position, u which must appear to 
66 those who neither consider nor understand the 
" reason, as it were somewhat amazing ; but if 
" mechanically considered, it may be easily con- 
" ceived with this allowance, that nature here, as 
" well as on many occasions, acts in a manner that 
" cannot be entirely reduced to mechanical prin- 
" ciples." 



FIGURE SKATING. 57 

" This allowance" is certainly a very neat way 
of jumping the difficulty, and flooring "those who 
" neither consider nor understand." It is a fair 
specimen of military logic in the dark ages. lie 
then goes into an elaborate argument, to prove that 
a wooden representative of humanity could not 
possibly maintain an inclination so far off the cen- 
tre of gravity, and concludes : " I can assign no 
" other reason for his being capable of supporting 
" himself in such an attitude, than the wonderful 
" construction and manner of acting of the 
" muscles." 

For learning Kolling, the next authority, like- 
wise a military one, Captain Clias, says : 

" Much assistance may be derived from placing 
" a bag of lead shot in the pocket next to the foot 
" employed, which will produce an artificial poise 
" of the body, which afterwards will become na- 
u tural by practice." 

With all deference, I should fancy that, if an 
artificial counterpoise is to be used, the hand far- 
thest from the foot employed, would be the best 
place for giving it power. But I beg the learner 
to use nothing of the sort. 

The Reader will, I hope, excuse my dwelling so 
long upon " Rolling," for the reason that it may 
well be considered the key to everything else ; and 



58 FIGURE SKATING. 

I wish to give him all the information in my 
power. 

I have still one important point to discuss, 
namely, the attitude. I recommend a quiet one, 
without exaggeration or attempt at display. My 
taste may no doubt be called in question, but 
somehow, I don't half admire Mr. Augustus Fitz- 
noodle, the handsome young gentleman who rolls 
very finely indeed, with his foot well behind him, 
(a yard or two at least,) the arm on the same side 
following suit, the other one high in air in front, 
personifying, to our dull imaginations, a demigod 
on the wing for Heaven. But as we have no re- 
cord of the gods skating, though they did many 
less innocent things, (and even supposing, for the 
sake of his aftertype, that Apollo did wear an im- 
perial,) I would advise my friend Augustus to 
descend from his etherials, and adopt an attitude 
more in keeping with his character and occupa- 
tion. 

But in avoiding Scylla, Ulysses managed to steer 
clear of Charybdis also ; so in avoiding Augustus, 
it is not absolutely necessary that you adopt the 
extreme of carelessness or awkwardness. "Est 
quiddam inter Tanain discordem," &c, &c. For 
instance, how much we all admire the exceeding 
perseverance and unbounded enthusiasm displayed 



FIGURE SKATING. 59 

by our friend, Mr. Samuel Cairliss, an enthusiasm 
that can shine through six days of the week, and 
not flag much on the seventh either, if there is 
ice ; and we would no doubt equally admire the 
results, if he did not study to prove that grace 
and elegance are trifles beneath his notice. He 
could surely do otherwise if he would, but, in scorn- 
ing Augustus' magnet of attraction, extreme ele- 
gance, he constitutes himself the negative pole. 

The skate circles beautifully, but the knee above 
it is awkwardly bent, while the leg in the air is 
held as if playing football, and just about to make 
a tremendous kick. The head is obscured some- 
where among the shoulders, — the eyes are watch- 
ing the progress of the feet, — and as for the arms, 
they assume the most awkw^ard positions attainable 
on the spur of the moment. 

" In medio tutissimus ibis," there is a medium ; 
and here, reader, on this piece of beautiful smooth 
ice, near the side, by the hedgerow, you will see 
it. Those white carved figure 8s, and snowy 
circles, where the balls lie, are the " vestigia ma- 
gistri;" and Lord F, the indubitable "genius loci," 
is there, and the Medico, and Mr. Rodon,* the 
three veritable Graces, elaborating and illustrating 



60 FIGUKE SKATING. 

the real poetry of motion ; — true elegance, not the 
Brummagem sort, sported by Augustus. Look 
now at the attitudes in these circles, all are alike, 
though with their own individuality. 

The right foot firm on the ice, — the knee 
straight,— the right shoulder slightly forward,—-* 
the head erect, — and the eye looking before them ; 
the right arm bent, and half raised, but never 
higher than the shoulder, — the left arm hanging 
easily by the side, — the left knee bent, and turned 
well outward, — the toe pointing to the ice, just a 
few inches above and behind the other heel. 

So much at least for my opinion ; but that the 
reader may have a little more choice, I will tell 
him what other writers say on the "subject of at-^ 
titude. 

Captain Jones, for " Travelling" on the outside 
edge, recommends " the hands in the side pockets 
as most easy." One would almost suppose he had 
Glasgow in view when he wrote that, as the in- 
habitants of the western metropolis are proverbi- 
ally supposed to make use of these receptacles as 
substitutes for gloves ; probably from their fond- 
ness for fingering the plethora of coin understood 
to repose there. " Travelling," I may mention, is 
just "Rolling" in a milder form; instead of cir- 
cling, the curve is reduced to something not far 
off a straight line, but still on the outside edge. 






.afrag, &$ in Up Hfkt mm. 




FIGURE SKATING. 61 

This is the movements used in northern coun- 
tries, for going journeys ; reducing the curve of 
course saves distance and time. 

For "Genteel Rolling/' he says : u Let the arms 
" be easily crossed over the breast ; some chuse to 
u let them hang down at their sides, and others 
u put them behind their backs, both these methods 
" are straining, and not graceful." I give the 
reader the benefit of an illustration of Captain 
Jones' attitude, on which the only changes I re - 
commend, are, to straighten the leg on the ice^ 
(which only in starting should be slightly bent,) 
to lower the raised one a good deal, and to unlock 
the arms. We have got to consider the crossed 
arms so exclusively an attribute of Widdicombe's 
Napoleon, that, in these modern times, it would 
appear affected, and more " straining" than either 
of the attitudes condemned as being so. 

Captain Clias says: " On the commencement of 
" the outside stroke, the knee of the employed 
"limb should be a little bended, and gradually 
" brought to a rectilinear position when the stroke 
" is completed. On taking the stroke, the body 
" ought to be thrown forward easily, the unem- 
" ployed limb kept in a direct line with the body^ 
" and the face and eyes looking directly forward ; 
" the unemployed foot ought to be stretched to- 



62 FIGURE SKATING. 

a wards the ice, with the toes in a direct line with 
u the leg. While making the curve, the body 
u must be gradually and imperceptibly raised, and 
u the unemployed limb brought in the same man- 
u ner forward ; so that, at finishing the curve, the 
" body will bend a small degree backward, and 
" the unemployed foot will be about two inches 
" before the other, ready to embrace the ice, and 
a form a correspondent curve. 

u The muscular movement of the whole body 
u must correspond with the movement of the skate, 
u and should be regulated so as to be almost im- 
u perceptible. Particular attention should be paid 
" in carrying round the head and eyes with a re- 
" gular and imperceptible motion ; for nothing so 
" much diminishes the grace and elegance of skat- 
a ing, as sudden jerks and exertions too frequently 
a used by the generality of skaters." 

The above is all excellent,— the only alterations 
I would suggest are, to straighten the employed 
leg as soon as you can, — to keep the unemployed 
one less stiff, by bending the knee and turning it 
outwards — and to delay bringing the foot forward 
till ready to change. 

For the arms, the same authority says, " there 
" is no mode of disposing of them more gracefully 
" in skating outside, than folding the hands into 
" each other, or using a muff? 



FIGURE SKATING. 63 

If our modern Bloomers take to skating, for 
which, indeed, the costume is admirably adapted, 
that last suggestion should not be lost sight of; 
though, I dare say, even they will find it more 
useful, in learning, to take their friend Augustus' 
arm, and limit themselves for a time to that mode 
of " using a muff." 

The attitude for " Boiling," may be considered 
a sort of general one, as, with very slight variations, 
it is correct for all the figures on one foot. 

There is another mode of u Rolling," which is 
more difficult than elegant, but as some may like 
anything for variety, I will briefly describe it. 
When the curve is completed, and the raised foot 
coming forward for the new stroke, instead of set- 
ting it down with the heel towards the inside of 
the foot on the ice, and at right angles with it, 
sweep the raised foot round completely across the 
other, and set it down outside of it, and nearly 
parallel. The impetus is all got in the setting 
down of the foot, not by pushing off from the 
other, as in common Rolling, and hence the diffi- 
culty. 

Figure 8. 

This is " Rolling" so as quite to complete the 
circle with each foot alternately; the starting point 



64 FIGURE SKATING. 

is the centre of the 8 ? and finishing one circle 
brings you back to that point to start for the 
second circle. This is a most beautiful figure, and 
excellent practice; to make it available for skating 
in concert, you must learn to execute the pair of 
circles, repeating them always in the same tracks. 
Throw your glove on the ice, or make some mark 
for your starting point, at which your circles must 
also finish. You must also learn to make the 
circles large or small at pleasure, and to control 
your movement, so as to keep time with your 
partners, 

The Spiral Line. 

Take as many forward strokes as will bring you 
to your top speed, then start on one foot for a 
large outside circle, but instead of completing it 
at the starting point, reduce the circle as you pro- 
ceed, continuing as long as the impetus lasts, which 
may easily be for three or four complete turns, the 
circles becoming gradually smaller. 

The attitude for this is the same as for Rolling, 
but, as the balance is more difficult, the unem- 
ployed limb must be a little more raised, and the 
arms a little more extended, taking care, however, 
to avoid exaggeration, 



figure skating. 65 

The Sea Serpent. 

This is rather a whimsical movement, and, I 
dare say, will not prove a favourite with my 
readers ; but as its difficulty may prove an attrac- 
tion, I put it in their option. 

With three or four forward strokes to gain 
power, start on one foot outside, and after making 
a semicircle, change the skate to the inside edge, 
at the same moment bringing forward the raised 
leg in front, and sweeping it back again without 
setting down ; when you have done a semicircle 
on the inside, change back to the outside, giving 
the same sweep of the leg, and so on alternately. 
You can, in this way, progress without ever put- 
ting the raised foot on the ice ; at first, you will 
only be able to continue while the first impetus 
lasts, but by practice you will increase your num- 
ber of curves, till you can dispense with the pre- 
liminary striking altogether, and make the move- 
ment self-sustaining. The change from one edge 
to the other, and the impetus, must be derived from 
the sweep of the raised leg, and a corresponding 
swing of the body, not from any twisting of the 
ancle. The semicircles should be as full and 
equal as possible. 

This figure, under a different name, was a 
favourite in the last century, but now it is rarely 
practised. 



6G BACKWARD AND MIXED FIGURES. 



CHAPTER VI. 



BACKWARD AND MIXED FIGURES. 

Inside Edge Backwards ; Outside Edge Backwards ; Flying* 
Mercury ; Straight Line ; Cork Leg ; Figure 3 ; Reverse 
Figure 3 ; Shamrock ; Q Figure ; Double 3 ; Double 3 
Reverse; Satellite; Salutation; Conclusion. 

The Figures of which this chapter treats, may be 
considered the highest attainments in skating? 
notwithstanding that some of them may come more 
naturally to the young skater than one or two of 
those that have been described earlier. 

Inside Backwards 

Is never used except as part of another figure ; 
it will be best learned in acquiring Figure 3. 

Outside Backwards. 

Having, in a previous chapter, been instructed 
in going backwards on both feet, you will have 
observed that, in doing it, one foot rests on the 



BACKWARD AND MIXED FIGURES. 67 

inside edge and the other on the outside, that on 
the inside being the one from which you derive 
the impetus. Take a few strokes backwards to 
gain force, and you will be able, by leaning to one 
side or the other, to describe a backward circle on 
both feet. Rest as much as possible on the foot 
nearest the inside of the circle, which works on 
the outside edge of the iron, trying to lift the 
other altogether, and which, with a little practice, 
you will soon find yourself able to do. 

When you can complete the circle either way, 
you must learn to alternate. The common and 
easiest mode of doing so is, as soon as you push 
back, lift the foot you do it with, rising on to the 
other with a straight knee; when you wish to 
change, set down the raised foot, and take the 
stroke from the other, lifting it as soon as you 
have done so. The objection to this mode of doing 
it is, that while you are taking each stroke, both 
feet are on the ice together for a time, which en- 
tirely destroys the effect, and makes the movement 
appear laboured and awkward, whereas, when done 
in the correct way, it is perhaps the most beautiful 
that can be accomplished. 

The mode I allude to, when well performed, is 
as follows : 

The skater, when one circle is complete, and he 



68 BACKWARD AND MIXED FIGURES. 

wishes to change, sets the raised foot, with the toe 
turned well out, down on the ice, crossed in be- 
hind the other, and rises upon it without stroke of 
any kind; the front foot is raised and carried 
slowly backwards with a sweep, so as to get be- 
hind in time for setting down, crossed as before ; 
then the other is lifted also with a slow sweep 
round, to be set down behind in its turn. While 
sweeping the raised foot round, the head follows 
the movement, that is, looking over the left 
shoulder while circling on the right foot, and vice 
versa. Turning the head not only assists the 
curve, but enables you to see where you are going, 
and thus avoid collisions, which might otherwise 
be very frequent with backward skating. The 
beauty of this figure depends on its total absence 
of effort, the impetus being got merely by the set- 
ting down of the feet, and the correct balance of 
the body. 

The way to learn it is, to try to walk back- 
wards, as slowly as ever you like, setting down 
each foot alternately, crossed in behind the other, 
with the toe much turned out, and the skate 
always on the outside edge. You need not at- 
tempt any circle at first, or to dwell on either foot, 
but when one is set down, raise the other, and at 
once put it down behind. You will very soon 



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BACKWARD AND MIXED FIGURES. 69 

acquire confidence in changing the feet, and you 
can then try to dwell a little on each, and so gra- 
dually work on to the full circle. This beautiful 
movement is not so difficult to learn as it looks, 
but whatever trouble it costs him, the skater will 
not regret it. 

Flying Mercury. 

This is a very large backward circle on the 
outside edge, and it has received its name from 
the attitude, which, as the reader will see in the 
illustration, is a very striking one — much more so 
than there is any occasion for. I consider this 
the same figure as the " Spiral," only backwards 
instead of forwards. Indeed, formerly, when back- 
ward movements were not practised, the name 
was applied to the large forward circle. 

The figure is performed by taking a few for- 
ward strokes with great force, wheeling suddenly 
round on to the outside edge, and endeavouring 
to describe as large a circle backwards as you 
can. The difficulty is to get round so quickly as 
not to lose force, and then to attain the balance, 
which, from the size of the circle, is a very deli- 
cate one. To make the wheel requires great confi- 
dence, and that is only got by practice. 

There are several modes of getting; round on to 



70 BACKWARD AND MIXED FIGURES. 

the outside. One way is to use figure 3, which 
will be found described a little farther on. As soon 
as the second half of that figure commences; that is, 
just as you are getting on to the inside backwards, 
set pow r n the other foot on the outside edge, and rise 
upon it. It is still simpler to do it by the reverse 
figure 3, as you get at once on to the outside edge; 
or it may be done thus, and, I think, with more 
force than by either of the other modes: — After a 
few strokes forward at full speed, bring the feet to- 
gether, rise on both toes, and spring round (to 
either side), at the same time rising on one foot and 
catching the balance. In whichever of these you 
employ, the motion must be quicker than its de- 
scription, or, I fear, you will lose too much force. 
While you are learning so difficult a balance, 
you are at liberty to use your arms and unem- 
ployed leg to the fullest, spreading them as you 
please, to get the balance, but when the figure is 
acquired, the attitude had better be restrained to 
that of the u Spiral." 

The Straight Line 

Is very similar to the last figure, but you have 
to catch the balance without leaning on to either 
edge of the skate, keeping on the flat of the iron, 
and this carries you back in a straight line. As the 



BACKWARD AND MIXED FIGURES. 71 

skate takes no hold of the ice, this balance is ex- 
tremely difficult to acquire. 

The inside edge is also sometimes used, but it 
is neither difficult nor graceful, and had better be 
avoided. 

The Cork Leg. 

This, like the "Sea Serpent," is a figure in 
which, by alternate outside and inside curves, you 
progress on one foot without ever setting down 
the other ; but the motion is differently executed, 
and it is done backwards. 

The body is inclined slightly forwards, and the 
impetus is derived by twisting the ancle so as to 
throw the skate on to the inside and outside edge 
alternately, describing very small curves on each. 
The raised foot is held motionless behind the other, 
and takes so little part in the figure that it might 
be dispensed with altogether, — whence the name. 

Figure 3. 

This is described by means of an outside roll 
forwards for half a circle, then changing to inside 
backwards on the same foot, without bringing 
down the other in any way. 

The change is effected mainly by a swing of 
the body, — which, if the ancle is kept stiff, will of 



72 BACKWARD AND MIXED FIGURES. 

itself change the edge of the skate to the inside; 
the learner must therefore pay more regard to the 
balance of the body, than to the feet. In learn- 
ing, he will feel constrained to make the first turn 
of the figure a very small one, but as he improves, 
he must endeavour to extend it to the full semi- 
circle. 

When he can do it on each foot separately, he 
must learn to do it alternately; after completing the 
figure on one foot, going freely off on to the other 
and so travelling about the pond where he pleases, 
as he does in Boiling. After that, he must learn 
to control his movement so that he can make the 
figure finish exactly in the spot where it com- 
menced, as that is necessary for combined figure 
skating, though the 3 somewhat loses its form by 
the change. To practise for this, he must follow 
the same directions as given for figure 8. The 3 
was introduced in the last century as the " heart- 
shaped figure," and was then thought so difficult 
as to be quite the acme of skating accomplishment. 

Figure 3 Eeverse. 

This is not so often practised as the former, but 
it should be acquired, as it assists other figures. 
It commences with inside forwards for half a circle 
or rather less, when the body is quickly turned, so 



BACKWARD AND MIXED FIGURES. 73 

as to complete the figure with outside backwards 
on the same foot, and without setting down the 
other. 

The Shamrock. 

This figure is so named on account of its con- 
sisting of three circles, each about two thirds com- 
pleted. After a very full figure 3 ? on completing 
the inside backward circle, change the edge of 
the skate again to the outside, and finish the figure 
with a circle of outside backwards — thus executing 
three different motions on the one foot, without 
setting down the other. The last change is ef- 
fected by quickly throwing the body backwards, 
aud it is easiest done when the middle circle has 
been a very complete one. It is a difficult and 
beautiful figure. 

The Q, Figure. 

Start with a curve on the outside forwards, then 
change the edge to inside forwards, and finish with 
a circle outside backwards, all on the one foot, 
without setting down the other. It is just the 
" Reverse Figure 3," with an outside curve put 
before it ; but, simple as that addition appears, the 
learner will find it adds more than he may per- 
haps expect to the difficulty. 

K 



74 BACKWARD AND MIXED FIGURES. 

It is well worth learning, being a very neat 
figure when well executed. 

Double 3. 

After completing a figure 3, repeat it on the 
same foot without setting down the other; this 
requires you to change from inside backwards at 
once to outside forwards, and it is very difficult. 
The skater who is sufficiently advanced to attempt 
it, requires no directions. It is not enough, how- 
ever, that he succeeds in making all the changes, 
and gets through the figure anyhow, probably 
dwelling only for an instant on the first turn of 
the second 3 ; each semicircle must be full, or the 
beauty of the figure is lost, and it becomes a mere 
spin. 

When the skater once attains the double 3 ? he 
can triple it, or even more. 

Double 3 Keverse. 

This can also be done, and, when once attained, 
can be continued almost ad libitum; but the turn 
from outside backward to inside forward is rather 
too much of a jerk to be very pretty, and there- 
fore this figure is quite inferior to the preceding. 



backward and mixed figures. 75 

Figure Skating in Concert. 

Any one who has mastered the detached figures, 
can very soon, by a little special practice with 
companions, acquire this. The object is to com- 
bine various movements in any arrangement 
agreed on, so timed that all the skaters, working 
from one common centre, interweave the figures 
and circles without collision, and when this is skil- 
fully done the effect is beautiful. 

The figures most used, are figure 3s, and back 
and forward outside circles. They require to be 
executed with great precision, and the skater must 
have such perfect control of his movements, as to 
be able to make any change at any instant, or on 
any spot required. Balls are usually placed on 
the ice for guides. 

I will describe two of the most simple combina- 
tions, after learning which my readers will be well 
able to arrange for themselves. 

The Satellite. 

Any convenient number may join in this. Sup- 
pose a circle on the ice of about nine feet diameter 
— the skaters take their places round the outside 
of this circle at equal distances from each other ; 
a ball or some other mark must be placed at each 
position. The skaters all start at once, describing 



7 b Z. BACKWARD AND MIXED FIGURES. 

the centrejcircle on the outside edge, and in 
the same direction. On completing the circle to 
within one ball of his starting point, each skater 
goes off on the other foot, also on the outside, thus 
making a diverging circle round the ball he stop- 
ped at. All complete these satellite circles at the 
same instant, and start again as before round the 
centre one, each stopping one ball short of his last, 
and making a second satellite. The figure is com- 
plete when each skater has gone round every ball 
in its turn, but it may be continued ad libitum. 

This figure may be varied by executing figure 
8s for the diverging or satellite circles. 

The Salutation. 

This is the figure 8 in concert, and requires 
two or four. Two stand face to face, about two 
feet apart — both start at once, say on the right 
foot, for an outside circle. In starting, they pass 
each other on the right side, going opposite ways. 
On their respective circles being complete, they 
are again face to face, but in changed positions ; 
and start on the left foot, passing each other on 
the left side, so that each skater describes his com- 
panion's circle the reverse way. 

When four do it, the second pair describe their 
figure 8 at right angles across the other, starting 



BACKWARD AND MIXED FIGURES. 77 

at the moment when the first pair are hardly half- 
way round their circle. All should commence on 
the same foot. In the days of minuets, this fig- 
ure was performed with a great deal of pomp and 
gesture — with touching of hands and lifting of 
beavers, from which it derived its name ; but all 
that sort of thing may now be dispensed with. 

In this figure also, 3s may be substituted for 
circles; and most of the complex figures (or quad- 
rilles, as they are somewhat foppishly called) are 
variations on this. 

I now find that my pleasant and self-imposed 
task has reached its conclusion. Deficient, no 
doubt, in some respects, and imperfect in others, 
I may have omitted many figures, — from ignor- 
ance — or from intention; but I can safely say that 
the skater who masters all that I have described, 
if he unites, as he can hardly fail to do, a certain 
degree of freedom and grace in his carriage, may 
well esteem himself an adept. There is nothing 
on skates that he may not freely attempt after- 
wards; and he may employ his inventive faculties 
in working out new evolutions and combinations 
for himself. 

An advantage possessed by this pastime over 
most others, I did not formerly advert to ; yet it 



78 BACKWARD AND MIXED FIGURES. 

is no small matter to those whose scholastic or 
business pursuits fully occupy the brief daylight 
of a winter's day, that skating requires no such 
accurate vision as to prevent its being enjoyed at 
night, unless, indeed, the night is very dark. Nay, 
I am not prepared to say that it does not acquire 
higher zest, and is not followed with keener relish, 
when it comes as the relaxation after the day's 
toil. In the clear and bracing atmosphere of a 
frosty night, when 

" The floor of heaven 

" Is thick inlaid with patines of bright gold," 

such pastime will bring both health and pleasure 
to the thought-worn and the weary. 

Moreover, we have the chances of the moonlight. 

« F a i r Cynthia, she who never sleeps, 



" But walks about high heaven all the night," 
seems particularly partial to doing so when our 
frosts are keenest ; and never does the " smile of 
the moon" give us more "tender greeting" than 
when her full round orb rises over the trees that 
fringe the banks of some pleasant sheet of frozen 
water. 

My days of enthusiasm are perhaps a little on 
the wane, — more's the pity ; but in my " calida 
juventa," many a time and oft have I spent long 
and pleasant hours of merry moonlight on the ice- 



BACKWARD AND MIXED FIGURES. 79 

bound waters, with no company save my own 
thoughts. 

In such solitude, what feelings and emotions 
stir the heart exhilerated by this glorious exercise, 
I will not attempt to tell, seeing that the " great 
master" has done so before me, and how better 
can I conclude, than by giving them to the reader 
in their true and fitting utterance ; and then I 
may say, though not in the implied, at least in the 
literal sense — " Finis coronat opus." 



" In solitude, such intercourse was mine ; 

" 'Twas mine among the fields both day, and night, 

"And by the waters, all the summer long. 

" And in the frosty season, when the sun 

" Was set, and, visible for many a mile, 

"The cottage windows through the twilight blazed, 

" I heeded not the summons : happy time 

" It was indeed for all of us ; for me 

" It was a time of rapture ! Clear and loud 

" The village clock tolled six. — I wheeled about, 

" Proud and exulting like an untired horse 

" That cares not for his home. — All shod with steel, 

" We hissed along the polished ice, in games 

" Confederate, imitative of the chase 

" And woodland pleasures, — the resounding horn, 

" The pack loud-chiming, and the hunted hare, 

" So through the darkness and the cold we flew, 

" And not a voice was idle : with the din 

" Smitten, the precipices rang aloud; 



80 BACKWARD AND MIXED FIGURES. 

" The leafless trees and every icy crag 

" Tinkled like iron ; while the distant hills 

" Into the tumult sent an alien sound 

" Of melancholy, not unnoticed while the stars 

" Eastward, were sparkling clear, and in the west 

" The orange sky of evening died away* 

" Not seldom from the uproar I retired 

" Into a silent bay, or sportively 

" Glanced sideway, leaving the tumultuous throng, 

" To cut across the reflex of a star ; 

" Image, that, flying still before me, gleamed 

" Upon the glassy plain : and often times, 

" When we had given our bodies to the wind, 

" And all the shadowy banks on either side 

" Came sweeping through the darkness, spinning still 

" The rapid line of motion, then at once 

" Have I, reclining back upon my heels, 

" Stopped short ; yet still the solitary cliffs 

" Wheeled by me — even as if the Earth had rolled 

" With visible motion her diurnal round ! 

" Behind me did they stretch in solemn train, 

" Feebler and feebler, and I stood and watched 

" Till all was tranquil as a summer sea." 



JOHN NEILSON, PRINTER, TRONGATE. 



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